Whether you spent a lot of time researching your first cruise before booking, or figured it out as you went along, planning can be important for any trip. So, after your first cruise, or even your 40th cruise, it’s good to take a look back and ask yourself and your traveling companions about your most recent cruise experiences so that you can make your next trip even better. Cruising isn’t one thing, so finding the right cruise experience for you is important.
If you just came back from your last cruise, then make sure you check this out first: Do These Six Things After Your Cruise
What Did You Like About Your Previous Cruise(s)?
This one seems obvious enough, but the key here is to focus on the aspects of your cruise that you enjoyed, which may be unique to that cruise - or perhaps simply things that other lines, ships, or sailings may do differently.
This means, “I like that I could wake up in a different place every morning” or “The ability to walk from dinner, to a show, and then to bed was really convenient” probably aren’t the things to focus on, since those hold true for almost any cruise. Instead, if you liked the entertainment, ask yourself what you liked about the entertainment? Was it the high-energy performances? The singing? Acrobatics? Big stage shows with linear story lines? Those types of qualities could vary from line to line.
What Did You Dislike About Your Previous Cruise(s)?
It may be that this is the most important question for anyone after their first cruise. Why? Cruising is so much different than any other type of vacation, that it’d be easy for first timers to think that something they didn’t like is just a fact of cruising - and not something they might find different on another line, or on another itinerary.
If you felt the ship was just too crowded, then look for lines with more favorable passenger:space ratios. If you felt there were too many charges at every turn, then you might consider a line that includes more with your fare, or the same type of line, but where you build in drink packages, gratuities, etc in when you book. Even the cuisine, embarkation procedures, decor, and overall feel can vary a lot.
What Spaces or Activities on the Ship Didn’t Resonate With You?
Maybe you noticed a big part of the ship was occupied by go-carts or bumper cars. Perhaps there were just way more activities for families, and you like traveling solo. Personally, I like looking out for these things as I can then focus more easily on what I wish a certain space was used for, or an activity I’d hoped would have been onboard. If there were many spaces you didn’t find useful on a ship, there is a good chance that a different ship has more amenities or features that are of interest to you.
We really like that lines have such a wide variety of activities for folks, and if we’re traveling with friends who love surf-simulators, for example, then we’re happy to be on a ship that has those things for our friends. Traveling without them though, we may look for a cruise that dedicates a lot of space to an additional pool, or perhaps a larger library.
Interested in an entirely different line? The differences between cruise lines.
How Would You Have Spent Your Time Differently If You Did it Over Again?
Maybe the same type of ship and overall experience is exactly what you’re looking for next time - but we get better at everything with practice. Take a look back at the daily program (and send us a copy while you’re at it!) to see how you might like to spend your time if you took the same cruise over again. The next time, the schedule and activities might be different, but this can give you an idea of what to look out for.
We’ve definitely gone back and realized there were things that we didn’t do which we’d have liked, but either because of a schedule conflict, or just getting caught up in the moment (read: falling asleep by the pool), we missed out.
Discuss These Questions With the Right People
If you generally travel with the same people, then ask those in your traveling party what they thought about the cruise - and have them think through the questions above as well. That seems obvious enough, but there is one other person you must have this conversation with: your travel agent.
We bring it up a lot, but enlisting the service of a good travel agent is really important. Not only can they sometimes get you better prices, additional onboard credit, etc - but if they can get to know what you enjoy and don’t enjoy, they can make better suggestions to you, and all of their clients. Giving your agent feedback about your cruise is like writing a review that doesn’t just help others with their future cruises, but it can help you too!
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Finally, Book It!
There is one critical thing to get you onboard your next cruise - book it! More often than not, prices go up as ships fill - and ships do fill up. We can help explain the truth behind last minute cruise deals, but even more than that, just knowing you have a cruise booked is a great feeling. We always prefer thinking about how long it is until our next cruise, rather than dwelling on how long it’s been since our last cruise.